Toyota's making a moon rover for Japan

  • Toyota's making a moon rover for Japan

Toyota's making a moon rover for Japan

Although Japan has no plan now to make a manned rocket that could send people into space, the rover could be a major contribution to an global space probe program in the future, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

Toyota is a leader in fuel cell development back on earth, with many vehicles in testing - while its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai compact auto has been on sale in the USA, Japan and Europe since 2014.

The original manned moon rover was the Boeing LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle), which was used during the Apollo space missions in the early 1970s.

"At JAXA, we are studying various scenarios as well as technologies that will be applied to specific space missions", JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata said at the event, according to a press release.

Toyota revealed plans for a moon rover in collaboration with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Tuesday. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.

Toyota's concept vehicle, revealed in a new video and series of images today, will be created to hold two astronauts and runs on solar power and fuel cell technology.

But first, it will need the technology to support them. Moreover, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment.

Astronauts would be able to ride in the vehicle without their space suits on, while still having enough room for them to get in and out while wearing the bulky outfits.

Toyota is an off-road specialist brand that manufactures and sells more 4x4 vehicles globally than any other auto company, so it was the logical choice for the new moon rover, or should we say "Moon Cruiser".

Though it's meant to carry two people, Toyota says it can fit four in an emergency situation.

Running on a fuel cell, the lunar vehicle will only emit water and surplus air. "We aim at launching such a rover into space in 2029", he added.

"Being allowed to be a member of "Team Japan", we would like to take up the challenge of space", he said.